Pirates notebook: Jordan Luplow making the most of his opportunities

July 31, 2018

When Jordan Luplow was asked if he is toying with the thought that he’s seen enough of the minor leagues, he smiled.

“Wouldn’t that be yours?” he said.

Luplow was back in the leadoff spot for the third consecutive game Friday night against the New York Mets, filling in for Corey Dickerson, the National League’s second-leading hitter (.318).

Luplow, a third-round draft choice in 2014, is hitting only .222 in 27 at-bats this season, but half of his six hits have been for extra bases, including two home runs (one that went 422 feet July 14). He tripled, singled and drove in a run Thursday. In 105 major league at-bats, including last season, he’s hitting .210.

In left field Thursday, he made an over-the-shoulder catch that he was given “a single-digit” degree of probability to secure, according to manager Clint Hurdle’s analytics.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of fear in anything he does, when he gets on the bases, when he cuts the throw loose, when he goes up to swing the bat,” Hurdle said. “He’s the kind of guy that if you watch him for a series, you go, ‘OK, he’s pretty good.’ You watch him for a week, ‘He might be better than that.’ You watch him for a month, ‘Hey, he’s a good ball player.’

“He kind of grows on you with his steadiness and his ability to do some things.”

The Pirates are comfortable with Luplow replacing Dickerson instead of Austin Meadows, who is in Triple-A Indianapolis. Dickerson’s inactivity might not last much longer, so the Pirates haven’t seen the need to yo-yo Meadows between two cities.

Dickerson is recovering well from what he termed a mild hamstring strain -- the first of his career -- that he suffered in Cleveland on Tuesday. He ran before the game Friday and reported no issues. The disabled list never was brought up, he said.

“Still got a lot of testing to do. Still got BP, got practice,” Dickerson said. “I have to do all that and talk with Clint and see how we go from there.

“We have weeks of baseball left, not two or three days. Not being able to play and help the team is hard. It’s tough, but I’d rather be here for a majority of the games than do something crazy and miss most of the rest of the season.”

Like Dickerson, center fielder Starling Marte (wrist) wasn’t in the starting lineup Friday. Sean Rodriguez got the call instead. But Marte was open to the notion of playing after suffering a bruise when he was hit by a pitch Wednesday.

“I don’t think it’s too soon,” he said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. “If everyone approves, and I feel good, I’m ready to play (Friday).”

That was too ambitious, but Marte, who leads the majors with 25 steals, said there is no pain when he grips a bat.

“It doesn’t hurt. It’s more like a bother. I started noticing it yesterday. I grabbed a bat and did some things. I kind of just let it go.”

Cervelli: Day of rest

In another injury development, Francisco Cervelli was not in the starting lineup after starting Thursday in his first day off the concussion disabled list. He worked in the bullpen with several pitchers before the game.

Goodbye, Feliz

The Pirates made a slight adjustment to their pitching staff when they optioned Michael Feliz to Indianapolis.

Feliz, part of the Gerrit Cole trade with the Houston Astros, is 0-2 with a 5.53 ERA and allowed three hits and two runs Thursday. He has struck out 47 in 402⁄3 innings.

Alex McRae, a 10th-round draft choice in 2014, was called up from Triple-A. He never has pitched in the majors, but he was with the Pirates without appearing in a game July 7-9.

He started 18 of his 20 games in Indianapolis with a 3-8 record and 4.76 ERA. His WHIP is a career-high 1.597.

Nick Kingham, whose ERA has soared to 4.80, is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, who lead the National League Central.

You can thank Phillies

The Pirates got lucky just before the first pitch Friday when the Mets traded second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to the Philadelphia Phillies for Double-A pitcher Franklyn Kilome. Cabrera hit one of his 18 home runs this season Thursday night at PNC Park.